For a long moment there was nothing. Then there was a breeze, a zephyr, making the silver butterflies flutter and cling before being swept off and into the air. Then nothing. He felt his back pressing warm against hers, feeling the sizzle of power between them, like the aftermath of an electrical storm. Breathing in, and out. Breathing. Twitch eyes open to not fall asleep. Breathe.
… open up let me in let me in let me in open! The voices sounded like petulant Ili, but female. More than one. …she can’t, let me draw her out… it’s all different… different system… but there’s similar connections or she wouldn’t have let me create the silverwings… but she closed up tight…
Hmph. This fear isn’t logical. The mortal Daughter cannot reassure her, the Aras Son terrifies her even more. Son. Talk to her. We can do nothing without the permission of mortal human.
Minis could see himself on the Temple floor, his fat, young self, lying on his stomach, then rolling over to see the ceiling. “You don’t need to be scared,” he/I said/say. “They invited you. They want to connect with you.”
A tiny girl with pitch black hair peers out from Dimae’s robes. “I don’t trust Arkans. Even this Goddess—who looks like my Koru… the Ursul… the She Bear…" She waves fingers in front of herself, indicating the Gods across the way. “Besides, They’re there. It has been Arkans that have hurt me most. And most deeply.”
“Sorry about that. The Goddesses want to help with that. Selinae says you have a boy who is partly Arkan.”
“You people are the least magical I’ve ever met and suddenly I’m here, talking in spirit. It’s just not right. It’s not how the world works.”
“Stop waffling and open yourself. We need to get you fixed before we can even consider using your ability to work outside the Temple with the Mahid.”
“You want to connect me to that weird-ass Mahid? No. Just no. I don’t care if you’re a God. You’re just rude!”
The girl stood, hands on hips staring up at Risae. “You can’t do anything without my consent, then you’re rude like that?”
The Goddess looked almost nonplussed and withdrew, becoming still stone once more, even in spirit.
“Now you’ve offended Her.”
“Tough.” The girl spun to face him. “She wants something from me, She’ll not be rude about it.”
“Zak…” Mikas spoke. “Your other profession is one dear to me.” He didn’t loom, but rather sat on their level, white rat-catcher terrier panting across to snuffle all around Dimae’s feet and settle next to Bella, who was there reflecting Dimae’s hounds.
The Zak girl froze. “Arkan males aren’t to be trusted.”
“You trusted me,” Minis said. “I thought you liked me. We’re working together.” His child-self stood up and marched over to Risae’s statue. “Mother of Surgeons. You need us. All you need to do to get what you need is to ask politely, instead of pushing. Terrifying One, please be less terrifying when approaching the butterfly. You don’t grab or you crush the wings and legs, destroy the scale so they can no longer fly. As the one with the pristine labiritri and frail mice and fragile rats to honour You, You already know that.”
There was a long pause while Argos… in terrier form spun in circles before the Goddess. “code… handshake… yes/no repaired subroutines… recognition codes… biological… genetic code RNA/DNA unfamiliar…signaling handshake… all Gods are one code...
“Zak.” Risae came out again and the shower of silver butterflies stopped, vanishing into sparks of light, no longer trying to make Megan submit. “I was abrupt. I believed that you wished the premature aging genetic switch that is connected to your code turned off and expected you to open up to me.”
“My name is Megan.” The girl said, gazing straight into the Goddess’s face. She held up both hands, nails glinting steel. “I recognize you. You are the Claws of the Bear. You cut through. I was startled to see You here, in Arko. If you can ‘connect’ or ‘handshake’ the way this dog is gibbering, and fix something in me… I don’t want to die young… and you need me to somehow power your presence in that Mahid fellow outside Arko?”
Another pause and the terrier cuddled into Minis’ younger self, wiggling. “You’re tired, Son of Ours.”
“There’s a lot going on.”
“You will come talk deeply to us, soon.”
“Yes.” Minis drew a deep breath and was in himself once more.
“Goddess,” Megan turned to look at all the statues. “All of You. I’ll… let you in.”
Bella gave a thunderous bark, right in the Zak’s face and her eyes opened suddenly. “Dogs. What is it that I always have dog in my face breathing?”
“Are you all right?” Minis dropped his hands slowly. He wasn’t quite as tired as he thought he’d be. He climbed slowly to his feet, Narilla there with a helping hand under his elbow.
Megan who had a lap full of Bella now, scratching behind her floppy ears, smiled. Is she looking younger? What was the Goddess talking about, her aging, dying young? “Not startled by your Temple am I, any longer.” Her voice definitely sounded less stressed. “Your Goddess owed me, says She.”
“Really? Amazing. I hope you and They have a good talk.” He smiled and patted Narilla’s hand on his arm. “Thank you Fenjitza.” Doof landed on his shoulder with an ungraceful thump and began nibbling the edge of his ear.
“Good night, Minis.”
“Good night, Megan. I’ll leave Bella with you for now, hmmm? She’s a healer dog.” The Zak laughed.